Jim Morgans resigns as Parkland’s football coach

Jim Morgans knows no other way than to go 100 percent. It's an approach that has been at his core throughout his 33 years as a high school head football coach and it's something he came to demand from his hundreds of players. So when Morgans began to question whether he could continue to give that 100 percent he expected of himself, his players and his coaching staff, he felt it might be time to step away. That's what Morgans did Tuesday afternoon, tendering his resignation to his longtime friend Richard Sniscak, Parkland School District superintendent. "I tried to talk him out of it and convince him to stay," Sniscak said shortly after Morgans left his office. "But I get it. After 47 years he wants to spend time with his family. He deserves that opportunity. I know this was a very difficult decision for him." Morgans confirmed that it was a difficult and emotional day as he went from a meeting with Sniscak to Parkland High School, where he told his football team that he had resigned after 11 seasons in charge of the Trojans. "I knew it would be emotional, but even if I coached another five years, a day like this was going to come that would be just as emotional and difficult," Morgans said. "It was tough to do, leaving guys like Rich Sniscak and Mike Dobil [assistant athletic director] and all the great kids we have at Parkland who are so passionate about football and sports. "But I felt it was time to just take a step back, see where I am in my life and do some different things. Who knows? Maybe I will get back into coaching one day. I just turned 70 on March 10 and I'm healthy and feel great. But right now I feel I have to do this." As news broke late Tuesday afternoon, Morgans said his cellphone began ringing and filling up with text messages from many of his former players expressing their congratulations and thanks. Morgans will go down as one of the most successful coaches in Lehigh Valley football history with a record of 262-137-1 over 32 seasons, but he Continue Reading

Parkland’s 2007 football team remembers being on the Hershey stage against Pittsburgh Central Catholic

John Laub said he hoped to be able to be on the Parkland sideline for Saturday night's state championship game in Hershey.Pete Bross said he'll be at the game, but wasn't sure if he'd go on the field at Hersheypark Stadium. "I don't want to jinx anything," he said. "I'm pretty superstitious about stuff like that."But whether they're on the sideline, in the stands, watching on television or listening on radio, Laub, Bross and other members of Parkland's 2007 football team will be highly interested fans.That's because this is a rematch of their 2007 PIAA Class 4A final, a game the Trojans lost 21-0 to Pittsburgh Central Catholic.This week's buildup to the big game has brought back lots of memories of what unfolded eight year ago.And despite the defeat, most of the memories of that 15-1 Parkland season and the events leading up to the big game are good ones."We just lost to the better team that night … they were the best team in the state that night," said Laub, the team's quarterback who went on to play in the Big 33 Classic and had an outstanding college career at Richmond."It was frustrating, but we were just outplayed that night," Bross, a linebacker who went on to play at Lafayette, said.Eric Zuber, a cornerback, was even more frustrated because he couldn't play. He suffered a torn ACL in the state semifinals a Saturday earlier against Ridley at J. Birney Crum Stadium."It was definitely challenging to have to stand on the sidelines and watch your brothers compete in the game that you had always waited to play in," he said.Parkland's run to Hershey that year was a bit of surprise, considering Liberty had played in the previous 4A championship game and would return again in 2008.In a quirk of the schedule, the Hurricanes and Trojans weren't scheduled to meet during the regular season, but many thought they'd get to play in the subregionals.Instead, Hazleton, led by star running back Nate Eachus, knocked off Easton in double overtime in the subregional Continue Reading

Tim Moncman named Parkland High football head coach

The Parkland High School football program is replacing one state championship-winning coach with another. The Parkland school board approved Tim Moncman as its next varsity football coach at a meeting Tuesday night. Moncman, Parkland's defensive coordinator since 2012, takes over for Jim Morgans, who retired March 29. Morgans guided the Trojans to two PIAA Class 4A football finals in the most recent chapter of a coaching career during which he also won two PIAA 3A championships at Central Catholic. He went 112-33 with five conference and five District 11 championships during his 11-year stint at Parkland. Moncman has plenty of state playoff experience of his own. Before reaching Hershey in December as Parkland's defensive coordinator, he went to three PIAA 4A finals in a four-year span while the head coach at Liberty High School. The Hurricanes lost in the 2005 and 2006 state finals before breaking through and winning the 2008 title. No Lehigh Valley football team has won a PIAA 4A championship since that 2008 Liberty team collected gold. Moncman went 88-36 in 10 seasons at Liberty. He left the Hurricanes after the 2009 season to dedicate more time to his family, especially his 10-year-old son, A.J., who has Leber congenital amaurosis, a leading cause of childhood blindness. "Like I said to people, it's been seven years," Tim Moncman said by phone Tuesday night. "When I stepped down the last time, my kids were young, especially A.J. The biggest thing, when Jim stepped down, the first people I went to was family. My wife, my daughter, my son all said go for it. "It made it a lot easier being here for four years. The relationships the players developed with A.J., he's part of the team. He's part of the family. That was a big factor in deciding to get back into it." Moncman's close friend, Bret Comp, will stay on Parkland's staff as the offensive coordinator. Comp coached the Trojans' wide receivers last year. He also has a state championship on his resume, leading Continue Reading

Nazareth’s Jahan Dotson, Parkland’s Jahan Worth lead five area all-state football picks

Parkland two-way standout Jahan Worth, Nazareth wide receiver Jahan Dotson and Easton wide receiver Jakob Herres all landed spots on the Pennsylvania Football Writers Class 6A all-state team, which was released Monday afternoon.Two other Morning Call-area players — Palmerton senior defensive lineman Kyle Kralik (2A) and Bethlehem Catholic junior offensive lineman Elias Marte (4A) — also received all-state honors Monday. The 2A, 4A and 6A all-state teams were selected in balloting among high school football writers across the state.Worth earned a 6A running-back slot after rumbling for 1,456 yards and 31 touchdowns while helping Parkland win a sixth straight District 11 title. He also was the EPC South defensive MVP for a second straight season. He posted 112 tackles, seven tackles for loss and four sacks as a linebacker.Worth was at wrestling practice Monday and went into the weight room, where he started to receive congratulations from some of his football coaches. He wasn’t sure why at first.“It was crazy to see that I got it for running back instead of linebacker,” Worth said. “I’m just thankful to get it in the first place.”Dotson received a berth on the 6A team as an athlete. He caught 62 passes for 889 yards and 15 touchdowns, ran for another 100 yards and one touchdown, and threw for 180 yards and three touchdowns.Dotson gave a verbal commitment to UCLA earlier this fall. He will make his college decision official at a signing ceremony Wednesday, with no assurances yet that he will ink a letter with the Bruins.“It was a difficult year, a tough year for him knowing he was going to be double-covered every down, every play basically,” Nazareth coach Tom Falzone said. “Somehow, someway, he still managed to have a great season and produce so much offensively for us. He’s a special talent. It’s been fun watching him play, and I can’t wait to see him play at the next Continue Reading

High school football late bloomers, like some from the Lehigh Valley, worth the wait for college recruiters

Central Catholic running back Darnell Ferrell exploded onto the high school football scene as a senior with a mixture of quickness, speed and a knack for turning a brief opening into an opportunity for a game-changing play. In the process, he created myriad opportunities for himself, as college recruiters have come calling.Soon, Ferrell and many other highly regarded high school players across the nation must make decisions that will shape college football programs.The National Letter of Intent signing period for the NCAA begins on Feb. 1 (not including midyear and junior college transfers), which makes January the busiest month of the year for high school seniors sorting through choices about their futures and college programs trying to secure their own. Players such as Ferrell expanded their options with outstanding senior seasons and have also become central figures in what can be a hectic and harried process.Ferrell, a 5-foot-10, 182-pound dynamic playmaker, starred for Central Catholic this fall. He led District 11 in touchdowns (42), rushed for an Eastern Penn Conference North high 1,792 yards on his way to winning the EPC North offensive MVP and setting school records for touchdowns in a season and a game (seven against Dieruff).As a junior playing largely in the slot, Ferrell rushed for a modest total of 608 yards and caught 27 passes for 215 yards. He finished the season with 10 total touchdowns."I just worked a lot harder than going into my junior year," Ferrell said. "Junior year, I didn't really take football that serious. Going into my senior year, I really took it serious and buckled down. Also, my coaches put me in a good position to succeed."Similar to Ferrell, Northwestern Lehigh senior Trevor Cunningham posted the eye-popping statistics that dwarfed anything he'd done in previous seasons. Cunningham had 24 receptions for 420 yards and four touchdowns as a junior.This past fall, the 6-foot-2, 177-pound Cunningham made 52 receptions for 1,108 yards Continue Reading

AROUND THE VALLEY: Northampton football team will play in the EPC North this year

Northampton doesn’t have a football coach at the moment, but the Konkrete Kids have a new home when it comes to league play. At a league meeting on Dec. 13, Eastern Pennsylvania Conference officials approved Northampton’s proposed switch from the EPC South to the North, effective with the 2018 season. The North Division features Allen, Dieruff, East Stroudsburg North and South, Pocono Mountain East and West, Pleasant Valley and Stroudsburg. The 2018-19 school year will be first in a new two-year cycle for the EPC. In the 2014 and ‘15 football seasons, Bethlehem Catholic played in the North. Central Catholic spent the last two seasons in the division. When the EPC was announced in June of 2014, Becahi and CCHS were supposed to rotate every two years between the North and South, but neither wanted to be in the North despite the opportunity for more wins. The rivalries and crowd sizes weren’t the same in the North as in the South where Easton, Emmaus, Freedom, Liberty, Nazareth, Parkland and Whitehall are fixtures. But Northampton, which was a Mountain Valley Conference member after leaving the original Eastern Pennsylvania Conference in 1993, has stronger ties to the Monroe County teams in the division and is looking forward to the of being more competitive. The K-Kids are 0-32 in four seasons of EPC South play with many of the losses lopsided. However, they won their EPC crossover games against East Stroudsburg North and Pleasant Valley in their 4-8 season this past fall. “When the idea was originally brought to us in September, we took some time to think about it,” Northampton athletic director Shaun Murray. “We looked at the advantages and disadvantages and thought this might be the time to make a move like this. We know it’s not a long-term solution.” Murray said the K-Kids games against the EPC North have been competitive and engaging. “This makes sense for us right now especially when you look at past Continue Reading

Who might replace Joe Moorhead at Penn State? Four candidates, including one from Central Catholic

Joe Moorhead left Penn State after two seasons to become the head coach at Mississippi State, leaving the Lions without an offensive coordinator. Head coach James Franklin keeps a dossier of candidates ready even before assistants leave, so he’s prepared for such occasions. Who might be on his radar for offensive coordinator? Here are a few possible names, two in-house and two others with Lehigh Valley connections. RICKY RAHNE When former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop left for Tennessee in 2016, Franklin wasted little time in promoting linebackers coach Brent Pry to coordinator. This situation has a similar feel. Rahne, who has coached quarterbacks and tight ends at Penn State, has known Franklin since 2006, when he worked as a graduate assistant for Franklin at Kansas State. Rahne joined Franklin’s staff at Vanderbilt as quarterbacks coach and has been with him since. In 2015, after firing John Donovan as offensive coordinator, Franklin gave Rahne the interim title for the TaxSlayer Bowl. If Rahne isn’t promoted immediately, he’s the likely candidate to serve as interim coordinator for Penn State’s upcoming bowl game. “I want to surround myself with really smart guys. Ricky is a really smart guy,” Franklin said before the season. “… I think he’s a future coordinator. He’s been fiercely loyal, he’s a relentless recruiter, he gets it. He’s a team guy. He doesn’t care who gets the credit.” This would be a good time to promote Rahne, who also is Penn State’s passing game coordinator. He spent two years in Moorhead’s offense, is comfortable coaching the system and would make for a smooth transition. Further, Rahne is into the design-and-draw components of coaching more than the politics and psychology. “I don’t have any aspirations to be a head coach,” Rahne said earlier this season. “You just don’t get to coach as much ball.” MATT Continue Reading

Lafayette lands 14 football recruits

The Lafayette football program took the next step on its path toward a Patriot League championship by inking the commitments of 14 student-athletes for the Class of 2022.Seven offensive and seven defensive players signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday in the new early signing period, which covers three days. Previously, recruits could not make their commitments official until February.On offense, Lafayette coach John Garrett added a quarterback, two wide receivers, three offensive linemen and a tight end. On defense, the Leopards brought in four linemen, two defensive backs and a linebacker as part of the sixth scholarship class in the Patriot League era.The early signees from the Class of 2022 come to College Hill from eight states, including five from Pennsylvania, two apiece from Georgia and Maryland and one each from New Jersey, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.“The majority of our signees come from our recruiting footprint and epitomize the kind of student-athlete we want to bring to our program,” Garrett said. “They are a collection of smart, tough, dependable players who love football and want to be their best academically and athletically. We added some explosive players on offense and some disruptive players on defense who we anticipate making an immediate impact on the field in 2018. We are thrilled with this group of student-athletes and we look forward to adding a few more talented players to this class in February”Lafayette opens the 2018 schedule on Sept. 1 at Sacred Heart and plays its home opener vs. Monmouth two weeks later. The regular season concludes Nov. 17 against Lehigh when Fisher Stadium plays host to the 154th meeting of college’s football’s most-played and longest continuous rivalry.NAME POS. HT WT HOMETOWN/HIGH SCHOOL/LAST SCHOOLJordan Anderson DB 5-10 170 Temple, Ga./South PauldingAziz Diomande WR 5-10 185 Rockville, Md./Walter JohnsonJoe Egan DB 5-10 175 Atlanta, Ga./Westminster Continue Reading

7-year-old cancer patient inspires Maryville football

All it took was a 12-second video on Twitter to teach a bunch of Maryville football players lessons in life.A.J. Cucksey of Knoxville, a 7-year-old cancer patient wise beyond his years, shot the video a few weeks ago to wish the Rebels — especially defensive tackle Logan Justice, a family friend — good luck in their Class 6A quarterfinal against Bradley Central.Maryville coach Derek Hunt repaid the kindness by inviting A.J. to the Rebels’ practice Tuesday, as they prepared for Friday night’s state championship game against Cane Ridge. ► More: Maryville, Alcoa have 30 state titles, five miles between them While there, A.J. shared some words of wisdom and the team presented him with a jersey (No. 1, same as quarterback Dylan Hopkins) and a football autographed by all the players and coaches.“His favorite position is quarterback,” Hunt said of A.J. “He got to throw the ball with Dylan Hopkins. I got to introduce A.J. to our team, and talk about all the layers of his story.“I asked him, ‘A.J., do you have any advice for our guys?’ His response was perfect: ‘Always try your best and never give up.’ I couldn’t have said it any better.” ► More: Why an Oakland cheerleader grabbed Maryville quarterback's facemask The response didn’t surprise A.J.’s dad John. He knows the personality of his son, who has been battling brain cancer since he was 4. He saw him become an inspiration for the Knoxville Ice Bears a couple of years ago. He saw A.J. develop a relationship with former University of Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs, which has carried over to Dobbs’ move to the Pittsburgh Steelers. That story was recently told on the NFL Network.“We’ve always preached that Cuckseys don’t say ‘I can’t,’” John said. “A.J. has so much energy. He doesn’t hesitate to get up in front of a Continue Reading

Don’t let your babies grow up to play football

Boyd is tired, he's dizzy and he's sweating from concentrating all his energy on simply giving coherent answers. The former Vikings lineman last week left his comfy couch - where he spends most of his time hiding from the world - to show the public and Congress what can happen to someone who suffers multiple concussions playing football. Diagnosed with vertigo, Boyd battles depression and is barely able to take his wife out to dinner or to a movie. Boyd is embarrassed by his condition, but he made the trip to the nation's capital to deliver a message to parents whose children dream of becoming the next Peyton or LaDainian: just say "no" to football. "Right now I would tell any parent don't let your kid play football," says the 50-year-old Boyd, who played for the Vikings for six seasons in the early 1980s. "It is just not worth it. We know a lot more right now in June 2007 than we knew six, 12 months ago, much less years ago. I've had physical pains, I've had knees and hips replaced, but when you lose your mental capacity, you lose your identity." Boyd allowed his son, Anders, to play two years of high school football and now he regrets it. "I used to be outgoing, ambitious and hard-working," adds Boyd, who testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. "Now I am a recluse. I don't ever leave the house. Here I am in Washington, which is kind of surreal to me. I watch the world on TV. My identity is gone, my personality is gone, my potential is gone. (And) I graduated from UCLA with honors in sociology and communications." A week earlier at an NFL concussions summit near Chicago, Mark Bruener listened to some of the best medical experts in the country debate and share their thoughts on concussions and the devastating effects they can have. The Texans' tight end isn't sure whether head injuries lead to potential dementia, Alzheimer's or other debilitating brain diseases that have plagued an alarming Continue Reading